LINGUIST List 15.1481

Mon May 10 2004

Review: Translation: Alves (2003)

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  1. Vittoria Prencipe, Triangulating Translation

Message 1: Triangulating Translation

Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 14:28:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Vittoria Prencipe <>
Subject: Triangulating Translation

Alves, Fabio, ed. (2003) Triangulating Translation: Perspectives in 
process oriented research, John Benjamins Publishing Company,
Benjamins Translation Library 45.

Announced at

Vittoria Prencipe, Universit� Cattolica ''Sacro Cuore'' di Milano.


The seven articles presented in the volume are an elaboration of those
presented in a subsection of the II Brazilian International
Translators' Forum about process oriented research in
translation. Like the Congress centred on Translating the Millennium:
Corpora, Cognition, and Culture, the book focuses on the interfaces
between cognition and translation and on the investigation of
translation process from theoretical perspectives, empirical analysis
and pedagogical applications.

The book is divided in three parts. The first one is centred on
theoretical perspectives in translation, and pays particular attention
to pragmatic and to the role of translator subjectivity versus an
objectivist approach to process oriented research.

The first article by Fabio Alves and Jos� Luis Gon�alves, A
Relevance Theory approach to the investigation of inferential process
in translation (pp. 3-24), is concentrated on the role played by
Relevance Theory (RT) and proposes a competence-oriented research of
translation, CORT, (cf. Gutt 2000) to investigate ''the basic
characteristics of problem solving and decision making processes in
translation'' (p. 3). The authors claim translation competence is the
''sum of several sub- competences which are constituents of a complex
cognitive network of knowledge, abilities and strategies'', such as
communication (p. 4). >From this point of view RT is considered the
theoretical framework upon which, through empirical instruments, like
Translog and Tap's protocols, ''it is possible to map the recursive
movements of translators and to identify parameters of relevance in
their problem solving and decision making processes'' (p. 21). The
authors conclude their interesting analysis underlining that the
ability in manipulating procedurally and conceptually encoded
information leads to the context, implicatures and explicatures, of
source text expressible in different environments, then, in different
target texts.

In the second paper, Controlling the process: Theoretical and
methodological reflections on research into translation process (pp.
25-42), Gyde Hansen focuses her analysis on empirical translation
studies, and particularly on the evaluation phases of translation
process, ''the interaction between the translators' skill, knowledge
and competences and their ability to keep processes and products under
control'' (p. 26). Her research is part of TRAP (Translation Process)
project, an empirical research program, through which translation
process is defined ''everything translator must do to transform the
source text to the target text'' (ibid.). The members of TRAP project
combine introspective methods, using phenomenology as epistemological
support, and retrospection with a computer program, Translog,
providing quantitative and objective data about processes. This method
allows them to design new experiment and offers the tools to
facilitate the observation and description of translation process. In
fact, thought description and negotiation of observations did not lead
so far to objective results, they shared replicable experience and

The Process in the Acquisition of Translation Competence and
Evaluation (PACTE) group was formed in 1997 by Allison Beeby, Monica
Fern�ndez Rodr�guez, Olivia Fox, Amparo Hurtado, Wilhelm Neunzig,
Mariana Orozco, Marisa Presas, Patricia Rodr�guez In�s and Lupe
Romero. Their aim is Building a translation competence model and in
the third paper of this book (pp. 43-67), they describe the first
model they design (pp. 43- 50), the description of their project
(pp. 50-54), and, at last, the modification introduced to that
model. All the group's members are translators and translation
teachers and because of their different theoretical and methodological
background, they proceed on two different points of view, the
translation process and the translation product. Their first objective
is ''define the professional translator and a model of how translation
competence is acquired that could be validated empirically''
(p. 44). So they introduce innovative aspects of analysis, like
psychological components and a dynamic model of translation competence
acquisition (p. 49).

The second part, Monitoring the process, centres on empirical
investigations to validate some of the instruments used in
triangulation approach. In his paper, Effect of think aloud on
translation speed, revision, and segmentation (pp. 69-96), Arnt Lykke
Jakobsen, presents data of an experiment finalising to determine what
influence the think-aloud (TA) condition - as described by Ericsson
and Simon (1984) - might have on translation process and target text
revision. Five final year translator students and five professional
translators translated two texts from Danish into English and two from
English into Danish. One of the two texts in both language directions
was performed with TA, the other one without it. All tasks were logged
by Translog. The analysis of results shows TA method slows down target
text production in both language direction and increases the number of
segments per source text unit. This results, however, do not
invalidate TA method, the most obvious method to experimentally answer
a lot of the questions about translation process.

In the next paper, The influence of working memory features on some
formal aspects of translation performance (pp. 97-121), Rui Rothe
Neves deals with the influence of working memory (WM) features on some
formal aspects of translation performance. ''WM is the ability to keep
some information cognitively active while processing that same of
another piece of information'' (p. 98). The first MW model, proposed
by Baddeley and Hitch, is based exclusively on neuropsychological
investigation, but MW can be considered a process, that allows to
interact processing speed, task coordination, storage capacity and
translation performance (pp. 100-101).

The paper reports the data of an experiment in which six novice
translators and six professionals carry out a Brazilian Portuguese
text in English, without time constraints and using the Translog DOS
version. The analysis of the results shows novices and experts
''arrived at the same results by means of different resources. ... it
is reasonable to suppose that translation experience does not imply
acquiring a completely new ability, but rather organizing a better,
more efficient, and resource-saving way of approaching the translation
task'' (p. 117).

Finally, the two articles in the third part promote the use of
triangulation as a pedagogical instrument.

The first article, Patterns of dictionary use in non-domain-specific
translation, by Inge Livbjerg and Inger M. Mees, (pp. 123-136)
discusses the results of three experiments carried out at the
Copenhagen Business School in 1997 ''which had the aim of comparing
translation into the foreign language carried out with or without
access to dictionaries'' (p. 123). The objectives were ''the
investigation of how, and to what extent, students use dictionaries
when translating non-domain-specific texts; to discover whether the
use of dictionaries influenced the quality of the translation
product'' (ibid.). The authors used think-aloud method, developed by
Ericsson and Simon (1980-1984).

The analysis of results suggests that post-graduate students ''have
insufficient confidence in their linguistic abilities'' (p. 131), in
fact they use dictionary by looking up units for which they have found
one or more solutions. So the correlation between time spent on the
translation and quality of the product it not clear. Then, ''students
focus too narrowly on lexical units at the expense of other important
factors such as situational and textual context'' (ibid.).

In the last paper, Using think-aloud protocols to investigate the
translation process of foreign language learners and experienced
translators (pp. 137-156), Heloisa G. Barbarosa and Aurora
M. S. Neiva, outlining the trajectory of the PRONIT research group,
support the use of think-aloud protocol to analyse translation
process. They use TA protocol in both monologue and dialogue versions,
with different research subjects, with different language skill levels
and different backgrounds in translation practice. So they can obtain
much more results summarized in nine points (cfr p. 152-153) like the
identification of three major categories of problems; the strategies
more spontaneously used to resolve them; the importance of
dictionaries use, etc.

The results of the experiment fulfil the authors, who hope that ''it
[will] be possible to acquire information that [will] help in the
training of future translators'' (p. 153).


The papers in this volume are a very interesting summa of the new
perspectives in Translation Study and deserve praise for integrating
theoretical, methodological and pedagogical perspectives linked by the
triangulating metaphor. Finally, the book clearly shows that research
is indissolubly lied to the process oriented approach and gives
numerous cues for exploring the importance and the complexity of
cognitive processes in translation.


Vittoria Prencipe, Ph.D. works as a postdoctoral researcher in the
field of Translation Studies at the Universit� Cattolica "Sacro
Cuore", Milan (Italy). Her current research deals with the
application of a Sense - Text model to the field of linguistic
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